23 December 2022
Bench, a few words about the feeling of community for Christmas
Driving around Polish villages lately on private and business matters, I realised something was missing. It’s about a very everyday thing, that is… a bench. It’s not a mistake; there are no benches in the Polish countryside!
I grew up in a small Mazovian village of the street type with 150 people. From childhood, I remember that on warm nights (but not only), whole families and their neighbours would sit on benches and talk about current events or the weather. The elders were gossiping loudly, the youths were making plans for the evening, and the kids were crazy on bikes, inventing many more and less clever games. There was a bench where you could sit and rest in almost every backyard. In a smaller and broader scope, it ensured a sense of community, depending on the number of people at a given moment.
Historically, in our village, benches were located directly along the road outside a yard because everyone had a cow and gave milk to a collection point. The milkman who took them there collected them in signed bottles directly from the benches and put them back there on his way back; leaving them on the ground could result in accidental spillage of their contents. Over time both the number of cows and the form of milk delivery changed, but the benches remained in their places, slowly decaying.
Together with the benches, the human sense of community and the desire to gather decays. Nowadays, people in the villages gather only during harvest festivals or homemakers’ meetings in rural circles. In the past, everyone knew they could go out of the house and bump into someone. Now the Polish countryside is emptying, not only because of the number of habitants but also because of their ways of living (it is, of course, the same in the cities, often we don’t even know our neighbour’s names). The disappearance of a sense of community and the benches mentioned above is caused not only by the development of the internet, mobile phones, and social networks but also by the overall changes in human relationships, emigration to bigger cities and, recently, the pandemic.
For many years the development of RES projects has been associated with Investor’s social participation in the areas they were developed. Instead of buying tablets for schools or building kilometres of asphalt (also needed, of course), we should change the approach and try to integrate the local community by investing in playgrounds, meeting places, common rooms and, of course, benches 😊. Maybe it’s just a false hope (but when to have one, if not during the magical Christmas period). Still, I would like to be a part of something that will make people start to integrate again and establish direct mutual relationships.
For the upcoming Christmas and the New Year, I wish everyone a sense of commonness at the Christmas table and, as simple as that, interpersonal kindness.
P.S. Of course, I also wish the RES industry the repeal of the unfortunate 10H rule, greater legal stability and investment predictability, and time to sit on a bench to listen to the local communities and clarify any doubts as partners.